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Bell City Council names new mayor

April 11, 2011 | 10:33 pm

Bell business owner Ali Saleh was named mayor of the city during the first meeting of the recently elected City Council.

The council voted 3 to 2 to make Saleh, who runs a family clothing business, the mayor. Retired baker Danny Harber was elected vice-mayor. The two positions rotate annually among council members.

Times investigation: articles, photos and interactive graphics on Bell corruption scandal

“There's a long road ahead of us,” Saleh told the audience. “A lot of stuff needs to be fixed at City Hall.”

About 270 people packed the Bell Community Center for the meeting. Another 25 or so listened outside, where a loudspeaker had been set up.

Many residents at the meeting were upbeat about the future of the city, which has been rocked by a sweeping corruption scandal that has resulted in eight former top officials being charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors with multiple criminal counts.

The new council faces the daunting task of dealing with Bell's financial troubles. The city is nearly insolvent and needs to cut $3.5 million to $4.5 million, about one-third of its budget. One possible solution is replacing the Police Department with Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies.

-- Jeff Gottlieb at Bell City Hall